Does Alcohol Effect Weight Loss?

Can you drink alcohol on the weekend and still stick to your weight loss?

Alcohol is very often viewed as off limits when following a strict weight loss plan. However, the majority of us are wanting to get in shape not to step on stage but simply to look good and enhance their social life. After a week of strict dieting and training, it's always nice to spend time socialising with friends and family which the majority of the time leads to alcohol consumption. So can you really drink alcohol and still stick to your weight loss goals?

Simply put, YES, yes you can. But let's look into it in more detail...

Related article - 5 reasons fat loss stalls

How many calories are in alcohol?

Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram which are more than protein and carbohydrates which are just 4 calories per gram. This means a that a heavy night of drinking straight alcohol alone packs a hefty amount of calories. Alcohol is however seen as toxic by the body and so as soon as it is digested your body will put it's all into metabolising the alcohol and getting it out of the system.

Sounds great right? However... when your body is focusing on metabolising alcohol it shifts away from being able to metabolise food that is currently in the stomach. The result this has is any food consumed in the period of alcohol being metabolised is going to break down a lot slower and more of a chance of it eventually being stored as unwanted body fat. So do your best to stay away from snacking heavily while drinking!

Related article - Calculating your calories

One standard drink on average takes 10 hours to process. Most of the time, alcohol is broken down by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). ADH then metabolises the alcohol into acetaldehyde. This is then broken down again and again until it is eventually discarded by the body as waste products carbon dioxide and water.  

What are the negative effects of drinking alcohol?

Although there are definitely ways of integrating drinking into your weight loss plan there are still a number of significant negative impacts that alcohol has on the body when looking at a weight loss perspective.

Lose all inhibitions 

When drinking it is very well known that we loosen our inhibitions, we care less, are less self-conscious, more confident etc... This relaxed feeling can often lead to an increase in calorie consumption due to not caring as much and not being as aware of your actions.

Lowered Testosterone 

Testosterone is essential for people looking to build muscle in the gm but also plays a vital role in fat loss. Whenever you drink alcohol, testosterone is slightly reduced resulting in a small halt in your body's potential to burn fat at a fast rate. As well as this lower testosterone means reduced lean muscle gain. A loss in muscle mass will result in a lowered metabolic rate meaning you burn fewer calories a day. 

Related articles - 8 supplements to boost testosterone & testosterone explained

Increased appetite 

How many times have you finished a night out with a large kebab or burger?! Drinking alcohol has a direct correlation with an increased appetite. So not only are putting more calories in through alcohol you are likely to end up over-eating putting a massive halt on your fat loss goals. 

Is drinking spirits better than beers, wine, cocktails?

Now there is a way of reducing the damage of drinking alcohol through sensible drink choices. Some alcoholic beverages have fewer calories than others. For example pint of lager, a glass of wine, cider all have added carbohydrates within them which shoot the calorie content per drink. Sticking to spirits and sugar-free mixers mean the only added calories you have are from the alcohol. I.e... vodka and diet coke contain about 64 calories. Compared to a pint of beer at around 200 calories and a glass of wine at around 150 calories. 

Tips to allow for alcohol calories without affecting your weight loss goals:

  • Stick to spirits and sugar-free mixers
  • Try to take out one or two meals earlier in the day to substitute for alcohol 
  • Try not to binge on a post night out kebab or burger 
  • Make sure you do some form of activity the next day to help burn off the alcohol calories from the night before. We know how hard it is to exercise on a hangover but believe its worth! Sweat out those toxins! 

Take away points

Although alcohol does have a number of negative effects on the body and binge drinking is never a good idea there is no reason why you should be turning down social occasions because you cannot drink any alcohol as you feel it is going to diminish your weight loss goals.

At the end of the day, everything in moderation is okay. If you can find a way to incorporate a few alcoholic drinks on the weekend so you can spend time with your friends then this is going to lead to your goals being a lot more sustainable and less restricted. Using the tips above and being sensible on the drinks you have will enable you to incorporate the odd drink into your diet without affecting your weight loss goals.